Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Education-related bills that have a chance to pass in Olympia

A bill in the state house, 4210, would allow school bond measures to win approval with a simple majority instead of the 60% they now require.

Another, 1971, would limit the number of charter schools that could open in a single district in a single year to three.

A third bill, which would clarify and strengthen regulations on the use of isolation and restraint tactics with special-needs children, passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.


Anonymous said...

And one bill that has no chance of passing: SB 6030. This bill would drop the Common Core State Standards and withdraw Washington from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, SWK, I saw that. A list of very conservative legislators is sponsoring it.

Watching said...

SB 6030 is sponsored by both conservative and liberals i.e. Pam Roach and Maralyn Chase. Ross Hunter is Chair of the Appropriations Committee and he will use his power to hold back anything that attempts to stop Common Core.

Tomiko-Santos has made changes to HB 2048, which would split SPS. The emergency clause has been removed, ESD will take public comments ( very generous- snark) and a split would not take place until 2019. The bill will be heard again on Thursday and has been moved to front of the line.

Anonymous said...

Watching, I just want to correct one thing --- HB 2048 will not "be heard again on Thursday." It is scheduled for Executive Session, meaning that it scheduled to be voted on. This is not a hearing and there will be no public testimony.

I just don't want folks to plan to drive down to Olympia tomorrow hoping to have their voices heard. There is no testimony during executive sessions.

--- swk

Watching said...

Thank you for HB 1971. It is interesting to note that First Place Charter school is scrambling to find dollars for day to day operations, and First Place might need to reimburse the state $995K. If the school is scrambling to fund day to day operations...I am having a hard time believing First Place would have the ability to reimburse the state.

mirmac1 said...

Please support HB 1947:

Creates the commission on improving outcomes for students with special needs to develop a ten-year strategic plan to expand learning opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students with disabilities or special needs and an accountability framework to monitor and report annually on the progress being made toward the ten-year goal.

Reject SB 5905:
Establishes the special education state advisory council in the office of the superintendent of public instruction to help facilitate the provision of special education and related services to meet the unique needs of special education students. Requires the superintendent of public instruction to provide for training of an additional twenty leaders per year for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 in the area of special education administration at the University of Washington-Bothell.

The latter places the fate of our students in the hands of OSPI's Doug Gill, who clearly does not have what it takes. And how does MORE training at Bothell of all places have anything to do with helping our students? How about district hire qualified SpEd administrators who understand IDEA?

Greenwoody said...

It would be great for SB 6030 to pass this year. But even if it does not, this is the first step toward fixing the huge mess that is Common Core and SBAC. It gives people something to rally around and demand in a shortened 2016 session - especially potent in an election year. Once the SBAC is given to WA students and people see the insane fail rates, the groundswell against it and against Common Core will grow here in WA just as it has in NY, NJ, and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI:

From Seattle Council PTSA

STATEMENT Regarding HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048
February 16, 2015

The SCPTSA Board has found little evidence or analysis that indicates that splitting up the Seattle School District, reducing the number of school board members, or appointing school board members would improve our school communities or create better outcomes for students and families. On the contrary, we are very concerned about the potential for exacerbating inequity, creating additional uncertainty, and further diminishing the voice of parents and families.

Even as we understand that legislators are attempting to address very real challenges in our schools with these proposed bills, Seattle Council PTSA board opposes bills HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048.

Our 82 PTAs pour tens of thousands of volunteer hours and currently supplement the Seattle School District’s operating budget by $3.6 million a year . We are providing basic education needs that the State is not funding, like librarians, tutors, counselors and instructional aids. Additionally our PTAs coordinate safety net programs like weekend meals, after school activities, and many other efforts.

While the State sits in contempt of court for failing to comply with the constitutional mandate to amply fund basic education, these bills focus on disrupting the governance and administration of Seattle Public Schools – with little to no consultation with Seattle’s families and communities.

Seattle families and communities need a school system which adequately provide for the basic education needs of all student and helps to unify our communities. The SCPTSA Board urges legislators to focus energy and effort on policies which strengthen families and communities such as are illustrated in our legislative priorities:
1. Ample funding of K-12 basic education per the McCleary decision; with increases in revenue orchestrated in a progressive, equitable, and sustainable manner.
2. School capacity planning, building maintenance, and capital funding solutions to reduce over-crowding and reliance upon portables, and provide stability, with sufficient and appropriate permanent education environments for K-12 students, both in the present and long term.
3. Safe environments for all children, staff, and teachers, both at school and during school sponsored activities off school grounds, including appropriate supervision, safe walk zones, safe transportation, and reasonable school start times that support healthy sleep.
4. Improved family engagement initiatives and processes that increase the authentic collaboration of parents, teachers, and students with education policy makers, Seattle Public Schools staff, and elected officials.
5. Initiatives and policies that provide all children with equitable access to all facets of a quality education, while giving special attention to our most vulnerable and underserved children.

Seattle Council PTSA Board:
Cassandra Johnston, Acting President
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative Chair
Cecelia McCormick, Special Ed Director
Annabell Quintero, Southwest Region Director
Iris Nielsen, Northwest Region Director


Anonymous said...

" Initiatives and policies that provide all children with equitable access to all facets of a quality education, while giving special attention to our most vulnerable and underserved children.

We don't need any more initiatives or polices" We need SPS to follow the law. Are these listed in order of priority?

I find no direct evidence that lack of funding is the cause of SPS not following the laws.

SPS blames everything on a lack of funding while they continue to swell the ranks at JSCEE.


Anonymous said...

Eden, thanks for posting a thoughtful and well reasoned response to some crazy legislation.

Also, thanks to Seattle Council PTSA Board.


Anonymous said...


To answer your question about SCPTSA legislative priorities...

Our priorities were developed through a collaborative process with the local unit PTA legislative chairs and other members. They were edited and reviewed many times over and first adopted by our board, then adopted by the general membership. The order may reflect priority order, but not necessarily, as these are all priorities or they would not be on the list.

Washington State PTA which represents all of the PTAs in Washington also has defined legislative priorities, which you can find here:

The WSPTA process involved first voting to adopt issues, then voting on the TOP 5. Number 1 on WSPTA is Funding McCleary.

While there may be room for discussion about budgeting priorities within SPS, what can not be disputed is that the State is literally in contempt of court for not funding education. And that the State only pays 55% of SPS costs. And that PTAs in Seattle supplement the operating budget by $3.6 million.

The State needs to come up with and additional $4.5 billion this biennium to fund K-12 education per the McCleary decision, and that doesn't even include the building needs we have. K-3 class size reductions which are due to be implemented just 2 short years away will require 350 classrooms. We already have 6000 students in portable now, and BEX IV is not enough to meet the demands of our growing population, let alone the K-3 class size reductions.

Personally I agree that there are a multitude of challenges that maybe simply throwing money at might not fix.

But if we actually DID fund basic education as already defined by the legislature, perhaps some of those issue would be able to be addressed.

To use a metaphor, it's a bit like sending a starved and homeless child to school and expecting them to be able to learn.

The State has been metaphorically feeding Washington's school children only bread and water for many years now.

In my personal opinion, it is time for the State to step up to their Paramount Duty and simply fund the system so that teachers can teach and students can learn.


3inSPS said...

Thank you Eden for your advocacy and the SCPTSA for ringing the bell of distress to these short sighted bills. Please keep up the fight everyone.

Anonymous said...


2048 was just voted out of committee with 16 yay votes. Pollet was a No. Bergquist a yes.

There is an amendment that was adopted which requires more public engagement, but the bill still WILL divide the Seattle School district into two.


Anonymous said...

Is the splitting SPS bill a serious proposition? The text of 2048 is available here:

It's ridiculous, a state mandated split of a city's school district, based only on size. If Seattle north (or south) of the ship canal grew large enough that there were more than 35K students, would the district be split again?

I'm hoping the legislators are just playing games, but I am pretty much flabbergasted at the idea.


Anonymous said...

Are there even any examples of cities with more than one school district? And, could spitting the school district along lines that would be both racially and economically segregated really pass legal muster? Or are people thinking about splitting the school district along I-5, or something like that?

I really don't get it. I feel like the bill has to have some other actual purpose -- maybe a compromise where they push through appointees to the school board, without splitting the district?

Anonymous said...

oops, that was me, zb

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eden, thanks for that update and it's just appalling that it got voted out of committee.

ZB, Pettigrew, at the Ed Ctm meeting I testified at, was asked about the split. He said:
1) doesn't have to be north/south - okay, then let's go east/west. (I think that is certainly more fair but it won't happen.)

2) It doesn't have to be geographic - it could be by "grade level." Yes, he said that.

Every time I hear him speak, I wonder how he got elected.

ZB, I perceived that the powers that be are united in doing every single thing they can try and seeing what sticks, how it floats, etc.

Anonymous said...

Spiting the district at the ship canal would be racially and economically segregating in what measurable way?


Anonymous said...

Today - Thur - is the cutoff for bills to pass out of committee in house of origin:

HB 1941 (bill for simple majority on bonds) - No action taken. HJR 4210 is the accompanying resolution that would go before voters to change constitution. No action.

HB 1971 (limiting charter schools in individual districts) - No action taken.

Doesn't mean ideas can't resurface as amendments to other bills, or reconstitute as "necessary to implement the budget)"

But comatose, for now

_Ramona H

Watching said...

"There is an amendment that was adopted which requires more public engagement, but the bill still WILL divide the Seattle School district into two."

I am now understanding that public engagement will now be via an "Educational Service District". Amazing that an outside agency might be making decisions regarding our district.

I listened to the hearings and Pettigrew spoke about splitting the district by "grade level". What does this mean? I've tried researching, but have found nothing on this subject.

Pettigrew and Tomiko Santos has shown a complete disregard towards the public.

Anonymous said...

On 2048/divide SPS:

The bill was amended. Substitute bill not yet posted. But here are links to amendments:

Mainly: Divide by 2019 (not 2018). 5 board members per new district. Took out emergency clause. OSPI/ESD's must schedule at least 3 meetings for public input on how to divide and other particulars (but not if). Public vote on final plan to divide.

-Ramona H

Watching said...

The fiscal note or HB 2048 can be found below. It is worth noting that these costs are preliminary. There will be enormous legal costs associated with splitting district properties, liabilities etc.

"II. C - Expenditures
Briefly describe the agency expenditures necessary to implement this legislation (or savings resulting from this legislation), identifying by section
number the provisions of the legislation that result in the expenditures (or savings). Briefly describe the factual basis of the assumptions and the
method by which the expenditure impact is derived. Explain how workload assumptions translate into cost estimates. Distinguish between one time
and ongoing functions.
OSPI estimates that for 8 meetings the ESDs would incur costs of $27,000 for employee travel, which would be
funded by the state.
Additionally, OSPI estimates that it would take 1,500 hours of ESD staff time to participate in the meetings and
provide staff support between meetings, this is estimated to cost $140,000, which could be absorbed.
Costs for the actual work of the regional committee are not included in this cost analysis."

Anonymous said...

Michael and other blog readers following the split district bill:

There is a very good article and series of maps based on the 2010 Census (concentrate on the Diversity map toward the end of the page) on the New Geography site. (One interesting fact, not germaine to this discussion, is that as of 2010 regions outside Seattle have become more diverse than Seattle itself.)

What you'll see is that aside from shoreline property, everything south of North Capitol Hill is very diverse. There is a big pocket of diversity around Lake City Way, also...but nowhere near the complex melting pot of languages and ethnicities from mid-Capitol Hill south.

For a relatively up-to-date map on poverty in the city, see The Seattle Times (the map on the right). Throw out the U District (college students) as an area of poverty and you will find a few spots of concentrated poverty north of the ship canal. Compare to wide swaths of concentrated poverty in the south end.

I am trying to think deeply, instead of knee-jerk (I don't like it!) about the Tomiko-Santos proposal. I don't know where that will eventually land me in perspective. But I DO know that the facts are the mid-to-south part of our district does, overall, have a greater complexity of socio-economic issues than the north end.


Patrick said...

EdVoter, yes, there's larger areas of poverty south of the Ship Canal, but there's also some of the wealthiest neighborhoods: Queen Anne, Magnolia, Madison Park, Volunteer Park. There's also by far the richest commercial real estate that pays the property taxes: downtown, the port. I'm not at all sure how it would wash out.

I'm disappointed that the financial analysis only counts the cost of studying the split! How about the ongoing costs if the split actually happens -- duplicate administration, figuring out an equitable division of debt and future bond and levy revenue, lack of capacity in one of the new districts, etc.

Anyone care to speculate about how it will do in the full House and Senate?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the information, and I hope this doesn't come off wrong, but why exactly does it matter in answering the question of whether or not a split of the district makes sense?

Is the goal to create two districts that are more homogenious- meaning one that would be primarily white and upper middle class and the other more diverse?

Or is the goal to actually serve all of Seattle's children regardless of race or socio economic status?

If it is this second, then why ever would it make sense to split the district? The answer to this is to actually fund the system.

It seems to me that part of the argument for a split is to have "our own kind" running "our" district and relating to "our" people.

This "our own kind" thinking puts us back 50 years. It is racist/classist thinking even if people don't realize it.


Anonymous said...

Patrick, legislative fiscal notes only consider the cost to the state budget, not costs to local school districts. That is why it only considers the cost of the study.

How this bill does depends almost entirely upon how the Seattle senators and representatives feel about the bill. If there is no strong opposition from the Seattle delegation, why would the other members care? They will vote as the Seattle members vote.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Wait, this bill was pushed by Tomiko-Santos because she believes the district is NOW racist/classist and her bill will allow the new SOUTH district to focus on the needs of those students.

So people are calling Tomiko-Santos a racist by fighting racism?


Patrick said...

Michael, I'm not sure the way to fight racism is to resegregate the city.

Anonymous said...

It's a very long leap to call this segregation. You and I have no control over where people choose to live. I can see a $3,000,000 dollar house out one window and low income housing out the other. I would say that's ry a very balanced picture. I'm surrounded by title one public schools and no where near the south end.

This bill is about focus not about race, stop trying to bait everyone into a race argument when the facts don't support it.


Anonymous said...

Zb - Anaheim has multiple school districts although not due to being forcibly split in half. In general, the central areas of Anaheim are serviced by Anaheim Union while some areas, like Anaheim Hills, are in Orange Unified. My guess is that these outer areas, before they became a part of the city, were unincorporated county areas and served by the nearest school district. Being annexed into Anaheim didn't change the school pathways.

Former Anaheimer

Anonymous said...

Again, from trying to think through the Tomiko-Santos proposition, I have spent some time on city maps. If you were to divide roughly equally in population, you couldn't divide right at the ship canal. Either QA/Mag, North Cap Hill, or both would have to orient north. This is because the north end is much less densely built than the mid-Capitol Hill and south area. (Though Ballard and Lake City Way are coming on strong.) My theory is backed up by the 11 (counting Meany) middle schools and referring elementary schools. Either Meany, McClure or both would have to point north.

You can't split Seattle along east-west lines. It simply cannot happen due to traffic + geography.

You could split the district into K-8 and high school, like Anaheim and other places. Would this help address the issues Tomiko-Santos and Pettigrew apparently see? No, I don't think so.

Thus I arrive again at a geo split landing somewhere through Capitol Hill. My best guess is that facilities, population and tax base would determine the actual lines via some appointed committee. The same type of committees moved us into district Council elections and also right-sized our federal legislative districts after the most recent census info.

Eden and Patrick, I am not trying to say this makes sense. I am trying to understand how Tomiko-Santos and Pettigrew and now the rest of the legislature are thinking. I am spending time on this because I think the split is a real possibility, more on political grounds than on philosophical ones. The Republicans have the Senate, they have influence in the house and one thing they agree on: they don't like SPS. (Heck, plenty of workers at OSPI think SPS is a mess.) Then there's the fact that this bill was introduced by a Democrat from our own Seattle delegation. And that there are plenty of Democrats who would like something drastic to happen to our district (think the charter supporters) and you get to where I am...thinking a lot about the issue...its merits, its demerits and what the heck happens if it moves forward.


Anonymous said...

I meant to add to the information above that orienting North Cap Hill, QA/Mag or both north would in turn further highlight a discrepancy between the north district and the south district in socio-economic makeup. What would happen to the tax base supporting the districts? Depends on what they did with downtown.

Are Tomiko-Santos and Pettigrew aware of the socio-economic makeup of these resulting districts and do they think this would be of benefit to the population they represent? I have to think yes, given that they have pushed the bill, but the only real way to understand their thinking is to ask them 'on the record.'


Anonymous said...

Ok, so some people think SPS is a mess...really? Ok I will add to the list.

DOE thinks SPS is a mess.
OCR thinks SPS is a mess.
DOJ thinks SPS is a mess.
Patty Murry thinks SPS is a mess.
Thousands of SPS parents think SPS is a mess.
Thousands of SPS employees think SPS is a mess.

Did I leave out anyone?

Wait lets change "thinks" to "knows"!


Robert Cruickshank said...

SPS is a mess, but not because of its size. It's because for 15 years it has been run by ed reformers who do not care one bit about the effective operation of a public school district, because the board has not been able to put together a majority to hire a superintendent whose focus is on fundamentals and cleaning up JSCEE, and above all, because the state legislature has no desire to properly fund our schools. Dividing the district just recreates those problems.

Anonymous said...

Funding is NOT the problem at SPS.

Proper use of funding, blatant theft of funds and failure to follow the laws are the core problems of SPS.

Show me evidence of underfunding.

You can't snap your fingers and produce a new school buildings overnight you also can't sell surplus building and expect not spend millions more to repurchase similar land in the future.

Until the mismanagement and corruption is addressed no amount of additional funding will help SPS.


Anonymous said...

Got this in an email from my Union: Education Funding Forum and Rally on Saturday, March 21 at 10:00 a.m. at Nathan Hale High School in North Seattle (10750 30th Avenue NE, Seattle, 98125). Edmonds, Shoreline, Northshore, Lake Washington, and Seattle are working together to create an event that makes a media splash, and all of the legislators in the 1st, 21st, 32nd, and 46th legislative districts have been invited. This is our opportunity to talk to our legislators and put pressure on them to fund McCleary and the class size law.

Glad I left

Anonymous said...

I'm not seeing how splitting the district solves Tomiko-Santos' "equity" problem. Both resulting districts would likely still have schools all along the poverty spectrum, as well as students of all academic ability levels, in all service need groups, etc. If the idea is that creating districts that are slightly more homogenous will bring about more tailored services, you can bet it will be at the expense of those who don't fit the new target demographic.

What , specifically, is the problem they are hoping--and it seems much more like hoping than planning--to solve?


MoneyAndBS said...

'.... because the board has not been able to put together a majority to hire a superintendent whose focus is on fundamentals and cleaning up JSCEE.."

It would be impossible for any superintendent to extricate themselves from the pincers of Seattle's leisure and political class.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, of course, there's nothing on splitting a district - a large urban district - by grade levels. Pettigrew just made it up (or someone told him that).

Yes, an Educational Service District will help OSPI decide what is right for Seattle? Folks, you better rise up because this is a disaster in the making.

From the amendment;

"Retains provisions with respect to OSPI convening ESDs to analyze options and make recommendations with respect to a legal framework for dividing a district and report back to Legislature by December 1, 2015."

The next amendment throws a bone to the public with THREE whole hearings that "seek input from the public, particularly residents of any school district that may imminently affected.."

Interestingly there is this language:

"Makes additions to the list of recommendations required from the ESDs regarding: the timeline and process for obtaining final voter approval on the new
boundaries; the timeline and process for reducing the number of directors; and, the process for involving community input, which shall include at least 3 public hearings."

What final voter approval? Is there something somewhere that says that doing this kind of change would mean voter approval, at least on the boundaries?

Eden asked the right question - why do this?

Both Santos and Pettigrew have said (and Santos told me this) that they have been very unhappy with how their district (meaning the 37th) has been treated by the district, they want more personal knowledge of the region, etc.

I'm hoping they will stay true to what they have said because this is the exact reason they have given. I have NEVER heard anything about how this will help all the kids of Seattle Schools.

So the bill may not be about race but it is about the kids in their district - you can go look up the stats to see who lives there.

So it's about blowing up the district for one region (putting it bluntly). I will not deny that the district has not done what they should have in the SE (but also the far south of West Seattle) but this bill is not the answer.

Of course this political - anyone surprised? And if legislators from the eastern part of the state can stick it to Seattle, yes, I'm sure they will. Is this about horse-trading for something else (like McCleary so they can all go home and say they got it done but got something out of it for their area), sure it is.

"Thousands of SPS parents think SPS is a mess.
Thousands of SPS employees think SPS is a mess."

Care to back that up with real knowledge? Because I am in a better position to tell you more about how those two groups feel than most but even I wouldn't tag any opinion with "thousands."

Our state does not even fund to the national average. Yes, SPS is underfunded. Is some of the money they currently have spent in the wrong directions? Yes. That does not negate the issue of McCleary.

seattle citizen said...

Why split the district? Reformers have the ears of those in favor of a split (state and city officials).
Reformers "do it for the kids" and it's easier to do if your parent/guardian constituents are a) desperate for their children to get out of poverty; b) perhaps not connected enough, savvy enough, educated enough to make use of recourse and enrichment wealthier parent/guardians might avail themselves of; and c) thus more willing to buy any ol' "solution" thrown their way, even if it's charter schools or similar nonsense sold by reformers.
Reformers have a history of going into "distressed" neighborhoods and selling their wares. There, they find community leaders who sign on as allies to gain power, for their comminities, themselves, or both (see the list of groups that signed onto Our Schools Coalition, a Gates product.)
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if OSC is an organizing tool for the district split idea. Local politicians can get photo ops shaking hands with reps from OSC member group leaders (thus gaining votes from those groups' communities; they get campaign cash from Gates and other mover/shakers; community groups feel they have gained some power and control; and the Charter companies bring their products (including tax breaks - transferable on the hedge fund market - for opening "schools" in designated distressed neighborhoods.
A split of the district isolates the poor so they can thus be targeted for corporate "remediation" because, of course, public school teachers in those communities are racist, worn out, union up holders of the "status quo" and should be replaced with cheaper, newer, non-union, scripted, easily replaceable teachers of test prep to raise scores on high stakes tests by marching students in neat lines and training them to bark responses like seals.

Anonymous said...

53,000 students would most likely yield 80,000 parents and your mind can't grasp that 2,000 parents think the district is a mess? I think there's 2,000 SPED parents alone that know the districts a mess. Someone told me the SPS employee satisfaction survey results showed 33% where dissatisfied with the districts administration? So that might not be 2,000, but it's close. I would bet a new survey would show even a larger number of dissatisfied workers.

There's no proof SPS is underfunded, but there is proof SPS has the highest administrative cost per student in the state and maybe the nation.

I'm tired of hearing about the SW or SE when I see systemic issues in the north end. Boo Hoo

Anonymous said...

The better question is, Why not split the district or why wait so long to split the district.

Kids should go to their neighborhood school and the administrators should know more details of the local schools and there needs.

SPS has too many administrators twice removed from the students.

I think HB 2048 will pass with little resistance.

Yes HB2048

Anonymous said...

How many private or public schools south of Capitol Hill cater to high achieving students? Hmmmmm. Sealth got IB going awhile ago. RB has IB only because we threw a hissy fit. There's a precious lil cohort of accelerated kids at Fairmount Park. That's all, kiddies.

We demand more public and private opportunities where our kids are expected to fly high, not just get by. We also need more staff working in tandem with social service supports not passing in the dark. Some cultural competency training? Gee how about just translating items with regularity into the languages spoken at home.

We don't need more middle management running hither thither all over the 50K kid district. We don't need more middle management who lives north and saunters down 2x a year for an 'engagement' meet n greet.

Frankly, we don't need most of what's at 4th and Lander.

I'd make spending money on the bet that the majority of this blog's readers haven't set foot on Beacon Hill or Rainier Valley or White Center in the past 30 days. Hell, make it 90. Or 180. Anyone from the north end want to send your kids to school down here? How about volunteer? OK, don't set foot in the place - just send $$. Oh, you don't want to do that either. The PTSA has made it a-b-u-n-d-e-n-t-l-y clear.

Bring the split. Yesterday. Y'all can figure out how to squeeze your kids into your nonexistent facilities. We'll figure out how to provide our kids with the currently nonexistent educational possibilities.


seattle citizen said...

Yes HBO 08 - Your only argument for a split is that district administration would thereby know (and act on) student needs better? Why would that be true? Same diversity of needs...Admission certainly won't know EACH student, so they'll be acting on similar kinds of needs, but in two districts instead of one, where more needs can be (theoretically) met due to economies of scale.

seattle citizen said...

Yes HBO 08 - Your only argument for a split is that district administration would thereby know (and act on) student needs better? Why would that be true? Same diversity of needs...Admission certainly won't know EACH student, so they'll be acting on similar kinds of needs, but in two districts instead of one, where more needs can be (theoretically) met due to economies of scale.

seattle citizen said...

South in - you make good points about needs (cultural competencies, supports networked, opportunities) but these are needed everywhere, not just south. Dividing the city into two enclaves, "haves" and "have nots", isn't reflective of citywide diversity and increases divisions rather than mending them.

seattle citizen said...

South in - you make good points about needs (cultural competencies, supports networked, opportunities) but these are needed everywhere, not just south. Dividing the city into two enclaves, "haves" and "have nots", isn't reflective of citywide diversity and increases divisions rather than mending them.

Anonymous said...

I love how those opposing this split are using the "splitting the district by race and socioeconomics" argument.
The readers on this blog have, by and large, been ardent supporters of the neighborhood school response to the Supreme Court ruling, even though Louisville took diversity into their response (as the Court wanted) to redrawing boundaries. These are the same readers who are against sharing even a percentage of their PTA monies because those other schools get "extra" money from the state and feds--yes, the money that doesn't even begin to address the effects of poverty.

This district is already divided largely by race and class.

The real concern I'm picking up from much of this readership is that it may affect your child's attendance at Garfield or some other such me, me, me need.

If you really cared about the race and socioeconomic division in the district, you would have been hounding JSCEE and the school board about the split that already exists based on the adherence to strict neighborhood boundaries and the lack of school choice.

I don't like that Pettigrew is in the hands of the reformers and am appalled by how ed reform money controls politics. On the other hand, this district is so messed up that the split won't make it any worse.

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

You make a good point about the choice issue, Enough. Why AREN'T people hounding the district about that? Many are arguing FOR neighborhood their neighborhoods....

seattle citizen said...

You make a good point about the choice issue, Enough. Why AREN'T people hounding the district about that? Many are arguing FOR neighborhood their neighborhoods....

Anonymous said...

Any way the district is split, north-south, east-west; the neighborhood school plan is out the window and forced or voluntary busing is on the table.
That's what Pettigrew and Sanchez are up to, "seeking" more money from the richer schools.

If Seattle PTSA could get on board with sharing the cash, this bill will disappear.

Just pick up the phone and call Portland and ask them how it makes everybody feel better to do the right thing.

I think I read Portland pools 10%, why not 30%?

opus 8

Anonymous said...

Amen Southie.

Another southie

Patrick said...

If you want evidence that the District is underfunded, look at the deferred maintenance list. Or class sizes. Or the 3-tier bus schedule. Or no summer school or only 6 periods in the day.

Those who think the south end gets a particularly raw deal from SPS are wrong -- every region gets a raw deal from SPS, managers who are indifferent, etc. There aren't a bunch of good managers hiding out in the north end.

I agree that it's too bad the PTAs etc. don't share more of the money that comes in. But there's certainly not going to be more money shared by splitting the District.

The solution isn't splitting the district, maybe it's a stronger, full-time board that can get a grip on the managers downtown.

Anonymous said...

Yes it surely is too bad that the north crowd couldn't be bothered to be co-la-bor-a-tive with those funds or those volunteers or that district talent.

We've been handwringing for decades. Hasn't gotten us real far has it?

See, with this split it'll be goodbye southeast initiative. We'll be the mission not some pissant powerpoint initiative that's never amounted to a hill of my grandma's beans.

We won't lose. We'll be the apple of some bureaucrat's eye, not a fly by. Maybe we'll even have some choices some private or charter that wants to do their best by our kids. We can decide for ourselves if they're up to snuff. We don't need some NE limousine lib telling us our business.

What do most of you care anyhow? You don't do business at our end of the city. You aren't in our schools or our neighborhoods. You might have a smaller pie to divvy up but you'll live. Your pie is already pretty sweet. If you need more $$ for your missing high schools and too small grade schools y'all can have a bake sale. It works for you. It's never worked for us.


Lynn said...


Where'd you get the idea that the Southwest Region or Beacon Hill wants anything to do with a split? If you want to pull out of the district, you're on your own.

Why would a split draw private schools and charter schools to the SE? They're free to move there already.

(You forgot Thurgood Marshall, Washington and Garfield in your list of schools South of Capitol Hill that serve high achieving students.)

Anonymous said...

Lynn, thanks for confirming what I said about many readers' "concern about the racial/socio-economic split" actually being a disguised concern about their child not getting into a program--and not about the well-being and greater good of all the students in this district.

Lots of Seattleites, apparently including Tomiko-Santos, can see through this self-interest ruse and are sick and tired of it.

One of the things I love about Lynn is that she has no filter. She says what a lot of people are thinking but usually mask with PC jargon.

--enough already

Lynn said...

Lots of love to you too eo. Everyone loves a scold.

Anonymous said...

"I think HB 2048 will pass with little resistance."
Well, isn't that precious? Multiple sources in Olympia tell me that Democrats in the Ed Committee voted yes just to appease Santos' hissy fit, that this bill has been sent to die in the Rules committee, and that it will never even reach the floor for a vote.

It's still our responsibility to bombard our House members and Speaker Chopp with calls and e-mails demanding that this bill die. I certainly have done so.

And we should be scouring the 37th District in search of challengers for Pettigrew and Santos.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

It's still our responsibility to bombard our House members and Speaker Chopp with calls and e-mails demanding that this bill die. I certainly have done so."

Why would we want it to die? This the best news to come out of SPS since MGJ left or maybe English getting fired.(keeping fingers crossed)

Unfortunately this is just another attempt by the southern bunch to throw a wrench into the crowd by claiming racism or inequality in the 37th.

There are no facts to back up the claims.


Anonymous said...

The city is already split by SES and race. Education is not the only thing segregated. It's the same in housing, jobs, transportation, & opportunities. So I get why people are more than ready to spilt. Waiting for things to trickle down hasn't worked. In any case, there are plenty outside the SE who are ready to shed that sector anyway. (But please, let's keep the ethnic restaurants, Columbia city, and ID for the occasional diversity foray.) They want less social justice and more american exceptionalism in class. You know real history about the great founders and less white guilt. Yes, smaller, more neighborhoody touch which comes with smaller districts. NSAP has brought some predictability, but in my neighborhood with well funded PTA, there is also a lot more insider chumminess that goes on between staff and local parents than I like to see. When you have schools relying on big donations, that just creates a certain level of quid pro quo that is hard to avoid. But that's how Seattle rolls. Network your connection to get your needs met.

So I can see why people who are tried of being sidelined may want access as well.

another view

seattle citizen said...

Enough - Calling out people who are supposedly "not about the well-being and greater good of all the students in this district" is odd when you are ready to jettison half the district for the supposed benefit of the other half.

mirmac1 said...

"The PTSA has made it a-b-u-n-d-e-n-t-l-y clear"

Southie, I'm a southie too. I'm around White Center all the time. You and I are generally in agreement on issues.

I don't understand your statement about the PTSA. Can you explain? Do you mean the SCPTSA? I would've agreed with you in past years but this year the group is kick@$$. Perhaps you mean some individual PTSAs.

In any case, I don't think splitting the district will do anything but hand over the South end to education dabblers. My fear is that some schools will go the way of First Place. I firmly believe the problem lies on the 3rd floor of JSCEE. Their eyes are on a different prize and it has little to do with helping our classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I'm not ready to jettison anything. My opinion is that this district is such a mess that it likely won't get any worse if it splits. I'm not on a bandwagon one way or the other.

I have been calling people out on this blog about these issues for quite a long time now. I'm currently noting the hypocrisy of these same people who are trying to uphold their self-interest in the guise of promoting diversity.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I waded into this with my first impression, which was to be horrified at the idea and presuming that there's a political motivation (the rest of WA sticking it to Seattle, in the form of messing with its district, a bargaining chip, on school boards, charters, McCleary, . . . ). But I'm hearing those of you who believe that this will somehow benefit the south end schools. The argument that things are so messed up that any change is good isn't a very effective one for me, though. I'm pretty sure that it's quite possible to make things worse.

So, can we talk about some practical ways in which the south end schools (and, we do really have to talk about which ones, like whether North Capitol Hill/Queen Anne go south or north) will benefit from a split? I'm hearing the idea that there would be more local control. Do people also think there will be money for the South district (because of local tax levies in Downtown?)? What do you see happening, and how?


Anonymous said...

I'm completely on board with a requirement to pool PTSA contributions, though. I've always been horrified at the iniquity of the individual fundraising that schools do and the things they pay for with that money. In the extreme case, one can imagine schools with budgets that are heavily dependent on private fundraising, and then, those schools become subsidized private schools, in which the cost of attendance is buying a house in the neighborhood. I know in practice PTSA's behave better than that in many instances, but, I still think that part of the solution is pooling resources across the district, which might decrease donations, but would also force people to consider the entire district.


Anonymous said...

Amen, seattle citizen. That was my initial thought as well on reading Southie's rants about the evil north end. The whole "you northies won't share your PTSA dollars with us, so let's see how you do with a low tax base and no capacity" argument was the clincher. Sheesh.

Despite what Southie thinks, neither the north nor the south are monolithic blocs, and there's a lot of overlap in population subgroups across the two. This us vs. them BS is just that--BS. Like a new southern district would really be run by the people, for the people...Right! Bureaucrats are bureaucrats--and if you're going to restrict your hiring pool to people who live in your own neighborhood, you're not likely to fill positions very easily.

As a northerner who has (!) volunteered at a poor central school; who has fought for improved curricula for all students (likely to benefit high FRL/high ELL/low performing schools more so than those with more supplementation opportunities); and who has supported the idea of shared PTA resources, I know Southie has it wrong. But maybe it feels good to spew the hate, so whatever.

Show me how it's for the good of most and I'm happy to support a split. Until then, not so much.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Just fyi, SPS data maps of where students live seem to have been updated since the school boundary redraws (some maps show 2014-15 dates with some as recent as this week).

Looking at maps of enrolled Spectrum and HCC students, it is unclear how a N/S split would help the SE. Low cost to educate students (HCC and Spectrum) are concentrated in the N. The $/student in general funding that can now be shifted to needier school populations would be less available. It seems the result would be more $/student available to N end students and fewer $/student available to SE students. There would no longer be the benefit of district wide pooling and redistribution of resources. How would HB 2048 benefit the neediest students in the SE?

-just confused

Melissa Westbrook said...

"SPS has too many administrators twice removed from the students."

And having two districts will change all that with two superintendents, two Teaching and Learning, two School boards, etc.?

Some cultural competency training?

There IS a bill that supports that issue as well.

" Gee how about just translating items with regularity into the languages spoken at home."

Well, the district does do this for the five top languages but as they point out, there are at least 60 languages spoken in SPS and translating costs money. It won't be cheaper with two districts.

"The readers on this blog have, by and large, been ardent supporters of the neighborhood school response to the Supreme Court ruling,..."

Really? It's been a long time (back in 2007) but I don't remember that when the ruling came out, everyone here was for it. I remember many thought it was going to hurt many high schools.

"..that district talent."

What district talent is this?

Is your point on the PTSA - meaning the Seattle Council? all PTAs? - that they should be sharing their fundraising? Because SCPTSA does not fund-raise. They get their dollars from member dues and then have to pass on some to national and state. They get none of the money from individual school funding.

If you are saying SCPTSA should start a discussion about fundraising sharing, sure, I think that would be worth it.

Of course, if you split the district in two, the dollars would be quite different in two different districts.

Maybe we'll even have some choices some private or charter that wants to do their best by our kids.

Two things: 1) are you advocating for vouchers? Because that's the only way you could get private schools involved with public school dollars and 2) you should do some reading on "their best" in other charters throughout the country. Charters that close up and live parents in communities scrambling. That give kids demerits for being late, not having a shirt tucked in, etc and then force them out of the school or fine parents.

Anonymous said...

"What do you see happening, and how? "

Is this about charters, for example? and the hope that a South based district would approve charters that the whole district wouldn't?


Anonymous said...

If splitting Seattle schools is bad for xxx reasons, wouldn't combining Seattle with Bellevue schools be good for all those reasons? Better efficiencies of scale, fairer distribution of tax resources. Maybe the legislature should mull that over for a bit?


Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, yes, Gates loves charter districts and I have no doubt that if a split happening, the two districts would look very difference.

Anonymous said...

The bits of "us vs. them" and finger pointing on this thread is exactly why splitting the district is a very bad idea, in my opinion.

Remember all of the arguing and divisiveness that went on during the growth boundaries re-draws last year? I see a split of the district turning into that times 100.

Also, as Southie points out, there currently isn't a program to "share" PTSA funds across the district. But what there is are many many many different efforts already to put more $'s and programs into lower income schools. While many neighborhood schools have less that $5000 per student, some schools in the South have $18,000 per student. The Families and Education Levy $, and now the Seattle preschool program and other grant programs.

When I got involved in all of this last year, one of the first things I thought about was the fact that it doesn't seem fair that some PTAs raise more $$ and have more volunteers than others.
And then I learned WHY PTAs have to run bake sales and run-a-thons--


I'm sorry for yelling here, but While millionaires and corporations get literally BILLIONS of dollars in tax preferences, our families are either pouring time into fund raising to try to make up the funding gaps, or schools just go with out.

The State is literally in contempt of court for failing to fund education. We have THE MOST REGRESSIVE TAXES IN THE COUNTRY. The poor and middle class are getting squeezed while the top 1% increase their wealth.

Southie, I totally get why you want to point the finger at those people in the north of the the City, but you are pointing it in the wrong direction.

It is the STATE's paramount duty to fund education and they are not doing it. Instead they have been handing over billions of $'s in tax preferences to the already insanely wealthy.

This is why both SCPTSA and WSPTA have made as our first legislative priority to Fund McCleary in a progressive and equitable manner. Check out:


Lori said...

Some good comments this morning, in particular from just confused about the current way our school-by-school funding works, with some populations subsidizing others (which is of course how a progressive system is supposed to work).

I read an article on the KPLU site last night that I had an interesting stat in it. They reported that if you use Madison as a dividing line (which is the northern boundary of the 37th LD), the schools north of Madison are 63% white and the schools south of Madison are 27% white (they didn't mention any other populations - just this one stat).

Since Seattle overall is about 70% white based on the 2010 census, I was curious how this could be, and I wondered if the overall demographics are really *that* skewed by region. So I played around on the census website looking at PUMA (public use microarray data) and CRA (community reporting areas) to see if I could do some back-of-the-envelope calculations about demographics.

What I got is that north of Madison is roughly 73% white and south of Madison is roughly 51% white. So, again, it's a crude analysis, but it looks like the north end schools come closer to reflecting their local demographics if using white race as the measure.

So where that leaves me is wondering what the private school attendance rates are in the south end. Many white families seem to not be sending their kids to their local public schools. Why is that? And if they did, how much money would that infuse into the local schools, from state and local government sources but also for PTAs? Aren't these "missing" families part of the problem?

I guess one frustration that I have is all this animosity directed at northend parents, for "having it so good" or not sharing PTA resources. But no one ever seems to mention the many families in the south end who aren't even in the system.

If I were the district, this is something I'd wonder about. How can we bring more south end families into their local schools? Wouldn't that help the south end?

And, yes, I know my little analysis here has limitations, but is there a kernal of truth in it?

Fire away and tell me why I'm wrong or why I'm racist or whatever. But, honestly, I'm trying to think at a big picture level about some of the district's major challenges and how they vary by region.

Anonymous said...

My Northend school is 23% white.

Go Figure

Melissa Westbrook said...

The breakdown of schools (not all children in the area but schools themselves) is available at OSPI.

Anonymous said...

Lynn is making generalizations about entire regions, which of course have more variation at the school level. Sandpoint Elementary is 35% White, 21% Black/AA and over 30% Asian/Asian Pacific Islander. Northgate Elementary is 17% White, 26% Black/AA, and 36% Hispanic/Latino. Both north end schools.

Great Schools has maps of private school locations - it shows over 115 elementary through high school level in the Seattle region, with a fair number both north and south of I-90.

more data

Ragweed said...

When you look at Seattle demographics you have to look at some differences in the age brackets involved. Seattle as a whole is 70% white, but the population from age 5-18 is more like 60% white.

SPS student population was 51738 in the fall of 2013, and 23,122 or 44.7% were white. The private school population was 17,250 and 11,085 of those students were white (64.3%).

So it would be worthwhile to see if the discrepancy noted by Lori were a factor of higher private school attendance, or higher percentages of white families without children in the subject area.

Anonymous said...

At this exact moment Seattle's head lawyer is himself out on administrative leave during an internal investigation. Another scandal.

Seattle's had decades to fix its downtown operations and its never happened. The nut has proved far too tough for voters, the board or top administrator.

It's past time to crack the nut.


Ragweed said...

I think what bothers me most about splitting the district is that I really have no clue what the impact would be, and I think most parents don't even have a clue that it is happening. This is being rammed through with very little opportunity for public comment or consideration. Why not put it on hold and have a series of legislative community hearings to find out what the public thinks?

I would oppose it on that grounds alone. We should ask our reps to shoot this down for this session and then bring it up for a vote again next year if we have some analysis. Right now a huge change is being rammed through without much public input at all.

Ragweed said...

I also worry what will happen in schools in the North end like Sand Point or Northgate or Licton Springs that do have racially diverse and high FRL populations. Will they be neglected even more in a less diverse district?

And how would test scores pan out - a good district and a "failing" one?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Skeptical, but HOW does dividing the district change management? Do you think all those people employed will go away? Very unlikely and, in fact, would probably have first crack at any jobs. Will it be good ones kept or what?

Just splitting the district is an action, not a result.

Again, if it were voted in, that means a split with ZERO public discussion AND likely only three public hearings - state-wide.

That is not democratic.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, I would be fine with this getting more public input and a vote next session instead of this one.

But c'mon. The JSCEE building itself is a suck of debt and an echo chamber of administrative politics. Sell the damn building. Put the administrators in the hearts of their constituents where they'll be face to face with the parents they dismiss from their ivory er beige tower. That will change some of the attitudes. Maybe some of the lamer players would stick around. More probably the ones up to their eyeballs in hubris would fold their cards in a huff and head to greener pastures. With the district downsized, Seattle Districts 1 & 2 would no longer be the state pinnacle of edu-administrator power. Ergo, a lot fewer career strivers taking up residence.

Bottom line: Until we pry that morass of intransigence out of there few educational initiatives in any part of the city are going to succeed long term.

Would this cost the state and local taxpayers more? No argument here. Results cost money.

Do you really think that if or when McCleary funds start flowing Seattle schools will improve if JSCEE isn't also completely restructured? I don't. You shouldn't. Hope the state legislators won't either.


Anonymous said...

@Fish in a barrel.

Who's writing the checks? This is fabulous news. Sorry it took three years and so many had to suffer. If you don't get your check by next Friday do we contact OSPI?

Ka Boom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bottom line: Until we pry that morass of intransigence out of there few educational initiatives in any part of the city are going to succeed long term.

Agreed but again, is this the way to get that outcome? Will a blowup of the district result in better management for both? Not if the same players get to keep their jobs.

Results? What do you base this on? The Times idea of "something must be done" is not a mature call to action.

Patrick said...

skeptical, the bad ones leaving and the good ones staying is not what happens in a typical reorganization. More likely it's the competent ones in JSCEE that would find jobs elsewhere and both new school districts would be stuck with many of the same old poisonous managers.
What we need is a board and super who are willing and able to clean house, and splitting the District would not make that happen.

Anonymous said...

I hear the 70% white thrown out in this type of discussion quite often. I'm not sure why. What I find more interesting is how many schools don't reflect that statistic. In a number of them, it's the opposite. Take a look at the OSPI at how many SPS schools with >50% non whites often with accompanying high FRL and ELL numbers. US census has WA and Seattle stats for person under federal poverty level around 13%. FRL qualifying level is set higher than FPL so we don't have hungry kids at school. There are quite a number of schools with FRL number > 40%. It's pretty astounding comparing schools.

That tells me a far different story than Seattle being 70% white.

This isn't about McCleary getting funded. It isn't about volunteering more in high needs school or divvying PTA money - all deserving a pat on the shoulder. The thing is to get people to start looking at why we use 70% white in such a discussion in the first place. Why in a wealthy, highly educated, low poverty, "progressive" city where we have people become self-taught experts in math curriculum, sleep deprived teens, and pollution effect at nearby schools, we seem quite tolerant about the inequity between our schools and neighborhoods.

another view

mirmac1 said...

Hey I don't expect everyone to know the ins and out of IDEA and Section 504. Just because my friend believes strongly in flipping bell times does not mean he or she is some selfish twit in it for his or her own. False argument.

The inequity in our society knows no race, zip code or religion. Sharing a million of Ptarmigan finds across a 550M operation will not solve the inequity. It takes those in charge to do their job and follow the law; if not they need a career change fast.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1, you're well known for your SPED work and passionate advocacy. Southie came across to me strongly like some regular posters on this blog. Many people here are very smart, good at research, up to date with current events, adept with statistics and analysis, so it shouldn't be too hard to make an educated guess that there are schools in this city which might not reflect the city's demographics. Such info can be found easily. No expertise needed.

I respect readers here to challenge themselves just as they've challenged me to think about what they write. I've worked all over this city and I hear similar opinions to what Southie expressed. Not just in education. Many of these people will never post here or show up at school meetings d/t lack of time, working mx shifts with odd hours-like housekeeping and shift work (I find it difficult to schedule appointment with my clients for this reason), cultural and language barrier, or transportation issues (some of them don't drive and refused to walk around the neighborhood, especially when it's dark because they are afraid of being hassled or robbed).

People are frustrated and Southie is expressing that quite well. It's worth listening to and try to understand what pushes them to this point. I don't think people want to take the drastic option as first choice. People whose daily lives are already quite challenging enough often are the least able to deal with drastic changes (well except for winning the jackpot. You'll be surprised how many people play with that hope despite the ridiculous odds).

I mull over this- if the district splits, will it be better? If district doesn't, will it be better to continue as before?

Another view

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another view, thank you for the thoughtful comments.

I have been asking this question a long time - what would the south end like to see done differently? I know the concerns but what specific changes would parents like to see?

What would a split district achieve? A smaller district might mean a superintendent who knows the schools better. That doesn't mean better outcomes or more resources.

In fact it makes levies/bonds more complicated. (At some point it might be good to make a list - from soup to nuts - about all the issues around a district split.)

Oh and I think a split will work in favor of charters so there is that danger as well.

But you circle back - and rightly so - to the here and now. What about the district as it is?

Well, there are a couple of things. One, if Ron English leaves the district, I could see some things changing. (Naturally, it depends on who replaces him. Mr. Cerqui seems to have far less baggage.)

Two, Board elections. Yes, I know you have heard this before but the lines have sharpened and I think candidates will be far more clear about what they want to do. "I care about kids" won't cut it anymore.

(I have my own deciding about whether to run or not.)

Three, I think some backdoor ed reform moves are going to blow up in some people's faces and when they do, I hope parents realize that THEY and their students are the district.

But I could be wrong (it's happened before).

seattle citizen said...

Please run, Melissa! : )